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Poll: Fewer than One in Five Italians Want Ports Reopened to Migrants

migrants
MATTHEW MIRABELLI/AFP/Getty Images
THOMAS D. WILLIAMS, PH.D.

Fewer than one in five Italians (19 percent) would like the government to reopen the country’s closed ports to migrants, according to a poll released Friday.

Only 12 percent of those surveyed say that it is the responsibility of individual states in whose territorial waters the migrant ships have arrived to resolve the situation. The survey commissioned by the Italian daily Corriere della Sera revealed that 60 percent said that in these cases it is the responsibility of the European Union (EU), while 13 percent said the duty lies with the NGO vessels that took the migrants aboard in the first place.

The issue of migration has returned to the political foreground in Italy with the ongoing saga of the two vessels operated by the NGOs Sea Watch and Sea Eye. The story has highlighted tensions in relations with the EU and other international organizations such as the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR).

A significant majority of Italians (64 percent) are favourable to the Minister of the Interior Matteo Salvini’s decision to close the country’s ports. Of these, 80 percent want the government to stand by its absolute ban on new migrant landings even in the case of the vessels Sea Watch and Sea Eye, while the other 20 percent think an exception should be made for these 49 migrants.

The closure of ports is the prevailing option among all social segments regardless of gender, age, educational qualifications, employment status, or religious faith, including Catholics who regularly attend mass, the poll found.

In its analysis of the survey, Corriere della Sera said Italians continue to fear the uncontrolled mass immigration experienced in recent years and also resent what seemed to many a betrayal by the EU in failing to come to their assistance.

A poll conducted last February covering all 28 EU nations revealed an overwhelming concern over illegal immigration with more than three-quarters of EU citizens saying that Europe’s external borders should be better protected.

The survey conducted by the Századvég Foundation’s Project 28 sampled one thousand adult citizens from each of the 28 EU countries, and found a remarkable consistency of thought regarding the dangers of unchecked immigration.

What is “most striking” about the survey, wrote the Spectator’s Douglas Murray, is that “there is such extraordinary unanimity around the question of immigration.”

Immigration policy is emerging as the central issue of interest in the upcoming campaign ahead of the May 26th European Parliament elections.

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